Barr's Irn-Bru - Supporting Scottish Football

Good Luck Glasgow With The Commonwealth Games

Celtic Park

Glasgow showed the world that they can throw a party as they launched the 2014 Commonwealth games in the city.

Here is a fantastic shot of Celtic Park.

The image belongs to HD Warrior.

Picture Blog: Cathkin Park

Cathkin Park 2014

Today I took a jaunt down to Cathkin Park as it’s only a few miles away from my flat. 

I have always been intrigued by the former home of the now extinct Third Lanark AC. It is only a stones throw away from Hampden Park home of Scotland and Queens Park. At its peak the stadium had a 50,000 capacity. 

As the world turns it eyes onto the city of Glasgow for the Commonwealth Games, stadia like Celtic Park, Hampden and Ibrox will take to the spotlight. All the while Cathkin Park continues to house weeds, tress and trash! 

Kids still venture onto the pitch following the footsteps of Third Lanark legends. But alas instead of thousands of cheering fans they may have a few magpies on the ruined terraces. 

Hope you enjoy the pictures and the sense of history, that I always get walking through the park.

 

CP Entrance

Third Lanark

In the light

B&W Cathkin Park

 Oval

Steps

Can

Broken Bud

Kids playing

Memorial

Standing room only

Magpie

Sunny

Monaco Moving For Fernando Torres Shows lack Of Intent

AS_Monaco

 

This time last year AS Monaco had already spent over €100m on new and exciting talent. This summer has seen the Principality club sell the likes of James Rodriguez, Emmanuel Riviere and Eric Abidal.

In return they have still to sign anyone of note.

As time marches on this summer, the Ligue 1 runners up seem to be content with chasing English Premier League (EPL) flops and has-beens. Those names may get the ordinary French fan excited (They love watching the EPL) but players such as Nani and Fernando Torres won’t really cut the mustard in the Champions League or challenge ZLatan and Co in Paris.

The purchase of Dimitar Berbatov was seen as a stop gap in January but after his contract was extended, it looks like that move could be the sign of things to come at the Stade Louis II.

Last year the big deals were done early but now as it approaches the end of July the big names all seem to be heading elsewhere.

If they are to stand any chance of pushing PSG domestically and doing anything of note in Europe, then they’ll need to go all out and attract players like Antoine Griezmann, Angel di Maria, Sami Khedira, Xherdan Shaqiri, Wesley Sneijder, Romelu Lukaku, Mario Balotelli or Freddy Guarin. Those are all players who have been linked with moves away for their clubs this summer.

But ‘Les Rouges et Blancs‘ have quite a few issues to deal with, if they want to bring in top talent.

First off, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has to show that he still has the hunger to plough in the cash. After his fight with The Fédération Française de Football (FFF) and his costly divorce the Monaco owner needs to set out his and the clubs ambitions.

The club also have to convince superstars at peak age that moving to Monte Carlo to play in front of crowds of around 10,000 isn’t such a bad thing. That’s why keeping Radamel Falcao could be very important for the whole team. If he were to follow James Rodriguez out of the door, then Monaco would be seen as a sinking ship.

Plus they need to prove to possible recruits that Ligue 1 isn’t just a one team league and that Monaco can do their upmost to wrestle the league title from the grasp of their rivals in the French capital.

Signing a 30 year old striker like Fernando Torres, who has been bang out of form for the past  four years, would be a huge mistake. Especially when you fork out £20m for the pleasure. Either bring in younger stars with potential or players still capable of playing at the highest level in the top competitions.

If they end up with the impotent Spaniard, then I fear that would spell the end of AS Monaco being any sort of force in France nevermind in Europe.

Tick followed tock followed tick followed tock. Now is the time for Monaco to walk the walk or stop all the talk!

Why Barkley Should Stick With The Toffees

Ross_Barkley

Manchester City have been heavily linked with a huge bid for Everton’s gifted youngster Ross Barkley. According to The Guardian, mega-rich City could be willing to pay £50m for the English darling.

Now obviously if that bid materialises it would be tempting for both Everton and Barkley, as that kind of money is life changing.

But if I could advise the player, I would warn him against such a move.

We all know Ross is a very talented player and his stock would have only risen after his World Cup showing, not many in the England squad can say that!

As a footballer, he excites the crowd. He has craft and vision. His ability to control the ball whilst running directly at opponents, shows glimpses of a young Paul Gascoigne. He can score a wonder goal or two.

Basically he has all the tools to go on and succeed at the top level of European football.

But he’s still only twenty, so he isn’t the finished article yet. Staying at Everton for another two years could be key in Barkley reaching his full potential.

Why? 

Well its simple. At Goodison, he’ll get more game time. Look at the current crop of English talent City have at their disposal; Joe Hart, Micah Richards, James Milner, Jack Rodwell and Scott Sinclair. Only Joe Hart is a regular starter, after Hart only Milner managed more than ten league starts last term with the EPL champions. Sinclair went to WBA on loan (did nothing) and between them Rodwell and Richards only managed three starts!

Man City’s England contingent have been wary of the lack of first team exposure for a while now. Adam Johnson departed the Etihad in 2012 complaining about the lack of first team opportunities. Gareth Barry and Joleon Lescott, who were both key members of the championship winning squad in 2011/12, both left on free transfers this summer without much fuss. If press reports are true then Micah Richards and James Milner also want to depart in search of more games elsewhere. Seems quite strange especially considering the Champions League demanding you have a certain amount of home grown players in your pool.

Rodwell is the one Barkley should look at closely. They both made their way into the Everton first team after developing through the Toffees youth ranks. Jack also had terrific potential but his career has stalled at City. Obviously injuries have hampered his time in Manchester but you’re not allowed too much time to learn from your mistakes or a chance to get used to your surroundings at City. If you don’t hit the ground running then the chances are you’ll be dropped and it will take you a long time to get back into the first team. That’s what happens at most elite clubs these days.

That is a lot of pressure for a player who still needs to develop.

Plus at Everton, Roberto Martinez will have his team perfectly set up to help the youngster. He will have Gareth Barry and James McCarthy (should he stay) playing behind Barkley and that will see them giving him the ball and protecting him if needs be.

At City where would he fit in?

They already have Yaya Toure, Fernandinho and David Silva. They’ve also just signed Fernando and still have James Milner and Jack Rodwell. The chat about Toure going looks like that is all it is, chat.

For me, Ross Barkley should hope that no bid comes in. He needs to get into the Everton side and cement himself a regular starting berth. He should be looking to start thirty games plus next term in the Premier League. His target in terms of goals should be to get into double figures. With his vision for a great pass, Barkley should be creating more assists, he didn’t create a single goal last season. At Everton, he will also get a chance to shine in the Europa League which should give him his first taste of European competition.

Then the ultimate goal, in terms of international football, should be getting into the England first team in time for the Euros in 2016.

Once he’s proved himself at Everton and is starting for England, then and only then should he consider leaving Goodison. In the summer of 2016, Ross Barkley will be twenty-two.

There is no need to jump at the first chance at a ‘Top Four’ club and the wages that they can tempt you with. Look at Gareth Bale, he turned down Man Utd and Arsenal for Spurs. He managed to grow as a player at White Hart Lane and has now just won the Champions League with Real Madrid.

So remember Ross, patience really can be a virtue and it can come with the best rewards!

Why Jose Is Bluffing And Chelsea Need Drogba

DidiDrogba

“I have to say my club did a fantastic job, and not just because of what we bought, but because we did it in almost record time. The transfer market closes 31 August and we close our market on July 19. We finished the market today,”

That was Jose Mourinho‘s declaration this weekend. Chelsea‘s transfer business is done with Cesc Fabregas, Diego Costa, Kurt Zouma, Filipe Luis and Mario Pasalic all signing on this summer.

The squad has also been boosted with various talents coming back from loans notably goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and midfield marshall Oriol Romeu.

If anything the squad may need trimmed with players such as John Obi Mikel, Romelu Lukaku and Marko Marin all linked with moves away from Stamford Bridge.

Throughout the squad the ‘Blues’ have great strength in depth in most positions, apart from one in my opinion.

In between the sticks, the battle between Petr Cech and Courtois could be very intriguing as Mourinho has to try and keep both world class keepers happy during the season. Belgian Courtois had an amazing season last term at Atletico Madrid winning La Liga along with Diego Costa and Filipe Luis. He also impressed while representing his country at the World Cup. Due to Cech’s shoulder injury (ironically against Atletico) Courtois should start the campaign as the number one. Chelsea also have an able back-up keeper in Mark Schwarzer ready if needed.

Ashely Cole is now at Roma and Chelsea have replaced their dependable left-back with Filipe Luiz. The Brazilian was a consistent performer during his four year stint in Madrid. He made on average 3.8 tackles per game and his passing accuracy was also above 80%. Ryan Bertrand is back from his impressive loan spell at Villa and could compete with Luis for the left-back spot. That role was right-footed Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta’s last term but he could now be moved to right-back and fight with Branislav Ivanovic for that jersey.

David Luiz has departed, moving to PSG for £50m. Young Frenchman Kurt Zouma was signed in January but only now arrives in London. The nineteen year old made over twenty appearances for Saint Etienne last season but will probably start this campaign on the bench. He will benefit from just watching the English game close up and observe captain John Terry and Gary Cahill from the sidelines. Obviously Ivanovic can also play as a centre half. Youngster Thomas Kalas has gone on loan to 1.FC Koln in order to gain more experience. That could mean that Nathan Ake and Andreas Christensen could see more first team action in the cups and if injuries occur.

As Chelsea usually play a 4-2-3-1 formation, the two central midfielders are important as they have to keep the ball moving and also have to help the defence. Club legend Frank Lampard has left the Bridge but former Barca and Arsenal man Cesc Fabregas could be an inspired replacement. The Spaniard has won plenty of trophies, got all the tools and has EPL experience. Nemanja Matic returned to Chelsea in January and was one of their star players, expect even more solid performances from the Serb this season. Ramires is a midfielder that runs and runs, he gives his all for the cause. He disappointed along with most of the other hosts in Brazil this summer and Jose will need to console the twenty-seven year back to form. Oriol Romeu impressed during his first season at Chelsea but was loaned out to Valencia last year, he’s back and signed a new deal and could be useful if Chelsea need more strength in the middle to close out games. Injury hampered Marco van Ginkel‘s debut season but much is expected from the Dutch player this season.

The creative three that play behind the frontman is well stocked up. Last season Eden Hazard was sensational for Chelsea and he will now hope to step up and become a world star. Mourinho admires Brazilian Oscar who can split defences with sensational passing and he also works hard getting back. Andre Schurrle had a fantastic World Cup, winning it with Germany, and will hope to cement a place in this Chelsea side. Willian showed once he settled in London he can help change games, that should spur him on to a better things. Mohammed Salah is another one who can only improve with a full pre-season under his belt.

Up-front is where help might be needed.

Obviously Diego Costa will come in and be the main man. The aggressive striker will hope to continue his goalscoring form in England. He will definitely rough up a few defenders and that’ll be fun to watch. It will be interesting to see how defenders try to deal with him and what refs will do if he over steps the mark. The Spanish international should get Chelsea goals and that’s why he’s been brought in. Surely we all know that Fernando Torres will never be a consistent threat at Stamford Bridge. If they could get rid of him, they would have. Clearly Jose doesn’t wan Romelu Lukaku and the Belgian will be sold off, probably to Everton. I also doubt Victor Moses has a long-term future at Chelsea and will probably leave this summer either on loan or permanently. Patrick Bamford could be used as a back-up but the twenty year old forward may be better off going on loan to another EPL side.

Plus lets not forgot that Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o have both left this summer.

That’s why Chelsea need to bring back Didier Drogba. Yes he is now thirty-six but last season he managed fourteen strikes in all competitions. He is still extremely fit and influential, who is a man for the big occasions. His leadership qualities would be great in helping Diego Costa settle in at the Bridge. I’d imagine after his spells in Turkey and China, the Ivorian could be ready to take a step back at Chelsea and help bring on the new generation.

He’s a player that Mourinho knows well and who would give his all in a Chelsea shirt. With Costa already signed up, they don’t need to go out and splash a huge amount on a new hitman but if they sell Lukaku and Moses they’ll need better back up than just Torres and Bamford. Drogba on a free makes so much sense.

But Jose Mourinho said Chelsea aren’t going to bring in any more new players? True but the Portuguese manager will just spin the signing declaring that Drogba isn’t a new buy, he’s just returning home.

If Chelsea want to challenge on all fronts next term then they still need a proven back-up striker.

SFA Forcing Fans Away From International Football With Expensive Prices

SFA

Last Sunday, Germany won the World Cup and sent their fans into ecstasy. Within a few days the Scottish Football Association (SFA) announced their ticket prices for the up and coming Euro 2016 qualification matches, which includes Germany’s first competitive fixture as the holders of the World Cup.

The ‘Tartan Army‘ had some good news. The season ticket included the friendly against the Auld Enemy (England) in November. So all in, the season ticket will see the fans see six home games against England, Germany, Rep. of Ireland, Gibraltar, Poland and Georgia.

Now here comes the bad news. The SFA have decided to increase ticket prices. The cheapest season ticket will cost £190, with the dearest setting fans back £250. So that will be either £31.66 per game or £41.66 per game.

If you’re not part of the Supporters club (which costs you £55 to join by the way) and wait for the public sale then the qualifying games will set you back £32-£42, yes it will set you back between £32-£42 for a ticket to see Gibraltar (who’ve never played a recognised, competitive international match). For a friendly against the English, who are ranked 20th in the world and who were put out in the group stages of the World Cup, you will have to fork out between £50 and £60.

Now here’s the thing, the SFA are basically fleecing fans just because they have ties against England (which is meaningless) and the World Champions Germany.

Now the SFA may say but this is our first increase in ticket prices since 2010. They may also say that the Irish are charging more and that they aren’t including the tie against the Germans. Blah blah blah!!!

Ok now let me ask a few questions of my own… When was the last time Scotland qualified for a major tournament? Last century (1998 to be exact). How many times have Scotland won at home since the start of 2010? Well in the nine home qualifiers, Scotland won three, lost three and drew three.

Things have picked up since Gordon Strachan took over the Scots hot-seat in January 2013. But the two previous managers offered little to cheer about and their teams produced dismal performances and in all honesty the Scottish national team and association should have been paying the fans to turn up to Hampden during that four year period.

See the SFA want Scottish fans and families to fork out a fortune but on what? We cannot be guaranteed great or even decent performances! Maybe the SFA could work on a performance method. If they have a successful campaign that was at least entertaining then they up the prices for the next round of qualifying fixtures. If they under perform and play dreadful football then they discount the next set of prices.

To be honest why not just look at the opposition and charge accordingly. £35 for Germany, £30 for England, £22 for Rep Ireland & Poland, £20 for Georgia and £15 for Gibraltar. That would then come in at total of £144. If they were feeling really generous then for the season tickets they could offer that for £129 with the Gibraltar game being given for free.

Also lets not forget that they have TV deals to show the home (with Sky, so thats more money for the fans to pay) and away qualifiers, they have a shirt deal with Adidas (which will set you back £52 for an adult strip) plus they have just extended their sponsorship deal with Vauxhall which was originally worth £5m. So the coffers aren’t empty at Hampden. Here is the full list of the SFA’s partners and sponsors.

But the Scottish Football Association thinks short term and likes to milk the fans of their money, without any transparency in where the money goes and why the ordinary punter has to pay so much. It responds with ‘well you can pay more elsewhere’ and ‘we haven’t upped prices in a while’.

According to the Daily Record an SFA spokesman said…

“Fans always throw up the argument that ticket prices in Germany are cheaper.

“That is because Germany has 10 times the TV revenue and a vibrant domestic league that sells out which Scotland don’t have.

“The same thing happened the last time and the Scotland season ticket ended up selling out.”

This statement highlights the complete and utter arrogance that comes with the Scottish football Association. If Scotland gets poor TV deals and the league isn’t vibrant, then the buck stops with the SFA. They deal with the TV companies and for too long ignored the development of youngsters at our grassroots level.

But the main difference between how German and Scottish football is run is that the Germans give their fans a voice and make them the shareholders of the game, so the focus is making it as accessible as possible to the ordinary people. Where as the Scots at Hampden look after themselves, first and foremost. They struggle to think outside the box and often only see the fans as an after thought.

Also its not just German football that works out cheaper. In France last term it would have cost you around £119 for a Lille season ticket. That was for nineteen home games including matches against PSG, Monaco and Marseille. In Spain, outside of the top three, the average price for a season ticket last campaign was between €150 and €200.

In Poland, league runners up Lech Poznań seem to offer a ticket for 436zł (£87) which includes all league games (18/19), Europa League qualifiers, and Home cup games (Thanks to @Ryan_Hubbard). Ryan also told me that you could get a cheap season tickets at KS Cracovia for as little as £18-£20.

Now for the last part of the spokespersons statement. They are right, many of the Scottish footballing public love their national team so much that they will pay £190 or more, to possibly watch substandard football. Many will stick it on to a credit card and go further into the red. Many will need more than one ticket to satisfy family needs. But does that mean they should be taken advantage of?

Are the SFA really wanting to call the customers bluff here? That is horrible customer service. I hope one day, the Tartan Army fans decide to say ‘shove your tickets’ and force the prices down and a change of attitude at the SFA, so they become more customer focused.

I don’t blame any fan for deciding to fork out a couple of hundred quid to watch their team. But I do blame the SFA for not giving the fans a better/fairer deal.

The simple fact is this, the SFA are overcharging for no other reason than they can. The quality of football isn’t guaranteed and hasn’t been for over a decade now. If they cannot come out and respect the fans with a statement that explains their ticketing policy, then the fans should demand changes at Hampden!

Newcastle United: I Just Can’t Figure Them Out

Newcastle_United

There’s a lot about Newcastle United that I like. Their history for one, I loved the Kevin Keegan era and the football they played. I also adore the fact that they always cherish and appreciate a good goalscoring number nine. Plus I have never met a ‘Toon Army’ fan that I’ve not liked.

I also like the recruitment policy they currently have and the fact that they are a selling club, as long as they get a decent fee in return.

That last point may upset a few fans but in this modern era its very difficult to scout players, bring them in for a modest fee, then sell them on for a nice profit and do it all over again.

In recent years, Newcastle have a good record of finding a gem and getting the best out of the player before selling on for a huge fee. They managed to secure £35m for Andy Carroll and brought in £19m for Yohan Cabaye, when they sold the Frenchman to PSG in the winter.

This summer they have just offloaded French international right-back Mathieu Debuchy for a fee in the region of £10m-£12m.

Those type of deals are fantastic pieces of business. I know diehard ‘Magpies’ may hate the fact that they seem to sell all their best players but it needs to be done, especially if you get top dollar for them.

Moussa Sissoko, Cheick Tiote, Tim Krul and Davide Santon may follow the rest out the door as their fine form has attracted interest from various suitors.

The recruitment side of things usually goes well. But a few times in the past, it stalled to a complete halt and that isn’t good when trying to enthuse a hungry fanbase.

This summer seems to be going along well.

The £5m signing of Daryl Janmaat could be the bargain buy of the summer. The twenty-four year old former Feyenoord man had a terrific World Cup. He will come in and replace Debuchy. If he can recreate the form he showed this summer and in the Dutch championship, then Newcastle will have a new dependable, hard working full back who can both defend and attack.

In Emmanuel Riviere, they have a striker who has a bit of potential but at twenty-four he needs to prove himself consistently as an attacking threat. He’ll need to hit the ground running if the fans are going to forget about Loic Remy’s heroics last season. Maybe Alan Pardew can get to the potential like he has with Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse and Remy. I’d still expect at least one more frontman to come in at St James’ Park and help take the load off.

Remy Cabella is another inspirational signing in my opinion. The attacking midfield maestro has all the creative tools to get to the top. Would be ideally suited for the role in the hole (like a number 10). He was certainly the star of the show for an average Montpellier side during the last campaign, where he scored an impressive fourteen Ligue 1 goals and created five assists. Cabella has one French cap to his name and replaced the injured Frank Ribery for the France World Cup squad. Like Janmaat, he’s twenty-four and could become a Premier League star!

The Jack Colback signing represents a good deal in two ways. Firstly he’s a free transfer who adds strength and depth to the squad. Secondly, his signing will infuriate Sunderland fans and it will be seen as a one up over the main rivals. Former Ajax captain Siem de Jong can play as a forward or in central midfielder. A consistent scorer and a player that offers guile and craft, that Newcastle need since the Cabaye departure in January. I don’t know much about young Spanish striker Ayoze Perez but he had a good record at Tenerife and probably won’t be rushed into the Magpies first eleven.

All of these signings seem astute and can give the Newcastle United fans cause for optimism. A new central defender and another striker would improve the whole squad in my opinion.

I bet the supporters would love more transfer windows like this one. Deals have been done with haste and good players have been brought in. Too many windows were allowed to go by without the Tyneside club replacing the stars that they had sold.

The scouting team under Graham Carr, deserves huge credit with the buys from Ligue 1 and the Eredivisie looking like superb acquisitions. The club should be pushing for a top eight finish and try and go all out and win a cup! The fans deserve that.

The impressive transfer policy, the decent squad and the great fans; those are all the good points.

But their are plenty of negatives that the club can’t seem to shake. It’s those details that hold Newcastle back.

The owner, Mike Ashley, deserves huge credit for some of the good points. But with that he needs to accept the blame for some/most of the clubs failings too.

The war against the city’s local press was unsavoury and unnecessary in my opinion. By not dealing with the local media, all you do is look petty and keep information away from the fans. If you have issues, then talk it over with the editors. The carrot does seem to work better than the stick on these occasions.

The relationship between the club and its own fans is quite disturbing. A huge Premier League club like Newcastle need to work hand in hand with the local community and be seen as transparent. If you remove yourselves away from the hardcore support and alienate them then the club is fractured and you cannot work to your full potential as a business.

Ashley seems to want to run the club like a European side complete with a director of football/sporting director. But with that you need to make good decisions on who you appoint. Dennis Wise was inexperienced and seemed to do nothing to merit his role at the club back in 2008. Then we had the debacle that was Joe Kinnear. Listen I liked Kinnear the manager of Wimbledon in the nineties. But unfortunately he didn’t evolve and he was out of the game too long. His main responsibilities were too get deals done, he didn’t manage to get one permanent transfer over the line. The fact he couldn’t even pronounce his own players names, showed his attitude to the job wasn’t the best.

I am also not a fan of Alan Pardew. Most of the time he seems devoid of any passion and then once in a while he explodes and pushes a ref, calls another boss an ‘old C*nt’ or headbutts an opposing player. These incidents are extreme. Once is unlucky but to bring the club into disrepute three times in such hectic fashion is just reckless. He has seen good results on the pitch but did he really deserve that big eight-year contract?

The treatment of players that the club want to offload, like Hatem Ben Arfa and Sylvain Marveaux, always saddens me. I hate players being made to train alone or with the reserves, as the club look to sell. If they are disruptive influences then fair enough but if not then why freeze them out and make them so unwanted?

So yes I have affection for Newcastle Utd and I really appreciate the clubs recruitment policy and the way they sell top talent. But there is also an undercurrent of drama and silly decisions that always seem to bring the side down.

If the club want to move on then they really need to deal with the issues between the board and the local community. As long as that relationship remains broken then the club wont be complete either and that’s upsetting.

I would like to dedicate this article to Newcastle United fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney, who both lost their lives on the Malaysian aircraft that went down in Ukraine yesterday. They were travelling to watch their team inn pre-season action. 

Liverpool Should Swoop For Falcao

Falcao

 

With Luis Suarez now enjoying his bites to eat in Spain and Alexis Sanchez deciding the bright lights of London suited his needs more than a trip to England’s north west, Liverpool still need that major signing that will get their fans salivating and warn their rivals that they once again mean business next term.

The options seem to be limited for the English Premier League side, who want that marquee signing that’ll stand out this summer and help fight for titles, both domestically and in Europe.

But maybe, just maybe, the Merseyside club could look to the French Riviera for that elusive star summer signing.

Last season Monaco were the football world’s big spenders, spending around €170m in new personnel as they challenged for the Ligue 1 title last season. They pushed PSG most of the way before coming undone in the title run-in (a bit like Liverpool). But this summer has seen the ambitions of AS Monaco change. As Andrew Gibney reported on Bleacher Report things don’t look so rosy for ‘Les Rouges et Blancs’. Talks are reportedly on-going between ASM and Real Madrid over the possible €85m sale of James Rodriguez, this summers star at the World Cup. If Monaco were truly ambitious would they sell their biggest commodity? I don’t think so. As Andrew pointed out in his piece, Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev has just lost a big divorce case and has had to handover almost half of his vast fortune to his ex wife.

The dreams of running a hugely successful European football club are vastly different to the reality in what needs to be done. Looking at the Monaco transfer dealings from the last six months, you get the idea that Rybolovlev has suddenly realised this too.

Where does this leave Monaco’s main striker Radamel Falcao? The Colombian was brought in last summer for around €60m. But within a month he was already being linked with a move back to Spain. He never seemed settled or happy in the Principality and the rumours of him quitting Monaco continue to grow.

But say James signs for Real, along with Toni Kroos, that would/should mean that Real Madrid wouldn’t be interested in spending more to get Falcao. Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Chelsea have already brought in there main striking transfer targets. No one in Italy could afford the fee and the Colombian’s wage. Barcelona, Manchester United and Manchester City don’t need anymore forwards at this time.

So that kind of leaves Liverpool; as they have the budget, the need and the big club/Champions League status.

Could they get The prolific goalscorer for a £40m fee? I believe it could be tempting enough to get AS Monaco to the table to at least discuss the idea.

Obviously the frontman suffered from a terrible anterior cruciate ligament injury in January that kept him out of Colombia’s World Cup squad in June. But the striker has already started to train again and by all accounts takes his fitness very seriously, even before this stint of rehab. So he should come back a stronger individual and hungry to once again prove himself as a top drawer striker.

His skills as a goalscorer shouldn’t be in any doubt. He has 199 career goals in 303 appearances. His goals can light up any football ground and the fans at Anfield would certainly have a new hero to cherish. Players like Adam Lallana, Daniel Sturridge, Steven Gerrard, Philippe Coutinho and Raheem Sterling would have a great focal point to all their lovely creative attacks.

Falcao wouldn’t be a like for like replacement for Luis Suarez, the closest they could have got to that is Sanchez. Radamel is more of an instinctive finisher and new age target-man, his interest in assists isn’t the same as the Uruguayan. But he would help replace a big chunk of goals that Suarez managed to get during his ‘Reds’ days. That might mean that Sturrigde needs to sacrifice some of his goals to help form a partnership with the big number nine from Santa Marta.

But if Liverpool could convince Monaco to sell and then convince the Colombian to sign on, they would be getting a star fit for a tilt at the Premier League title. At twenty-eight the hitman should be entering his prime years. At Anfield he’d be joining a huge club, ready to help him meet his ambitions if he can help the club reach theirs.

Remember this is just a blog about what could happen. Its all about adding two and two together. Maybe I’ve come up with four, maybe the player will stay at Monaco and maybe Real Madrid will stick two fingers up to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules and swoop for another big name signing. At the end of the day its just a theory on where Liverpool could go and improve their squad.

Why We Should Have Football At The Commonwealth Games

Glasgow

The World Cup has now ended, what on earth can keep us amused between now and the start of the season (well its already started in some parts). Well if like me and you’re Glaswegian then you can’t help but notice that the Commonwealth Games starts in the dear green place next week. It’s all very exciting.

But one sport conspicuous by its absence is football.

I’ve felt for a while now that it would be great to have some sort of footballing event at the Commonwealth games like a seven-a-side tournament or, probably more likely, an eight team knockout tournament made up of the best eight commonwealth countries according to FIFA world rankings. The teams would be Under 20s with two over aged players in each squad.

As its middle of pre-season (for most) and considering the ages involved, would teams have that big a problem letting their younger stars go? Especially if its only on for a week or two and maximum of three games in that timeframe. Obviously clubs would get a say on who gets to go and players involved in European qualification wouldn’t get called up.

The national team managers would take the squads and get the youngsters used to national team get togethers and help build a team spirit, much like the Germans and Spanish sides have done over the years at Under 21 tournaments and Olympics. It would have been a big boost for Roy Hodgson, had he been able to go from a poor World Cup to a successful Commonwealth games.

Now remember the saga involving the Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics? Well you wouldn’t get that at the Commonwealth games as the home nations all compete as their own identities.

Many in the Commonwealth struggle to get to major footballing tournaments and this new concept can get them to a tournament easier and may breed confidence to do it for real in the future qualifying campaigns.

So this is how it would work in the theory. We have the countries set out into six continent pots, with the highest seeded side in each continent being selected. We go with Australia being in the Oceania as it is in Commonwealth Confederation, as this wouldn’t be a FIFA tournament (another plus). All though the countries need to be members of FIFA. We would have the host nation (Scotland) obviously. Plus closest country to the hosts.

We would have…

Scotland (Hosts), England (Europe), Ghana (Africa)*, Australia (Oceania), Jamaica (Caribbean), Canada (Americas), Malaysia (Asia) & Wales (neighbours).

*Nigeria do not have an FA at the minute and are banned by FIFA.

I’ve went a bit mad and put these names in a hat and drawn the first round…

  • England versus Canada
  • Australia versus Scotland
  • Malaysia versus Ghana
  • Jamaica versus Wales

Not bad.

The games would then be played at Ibrox, Firhill and Fir Park, with the Rugby sevens being played elsewhere like Rugby Park for example. They would play the quarter finals on the Saturday the 26th, the semi-finals on the Wednesday night and the final on the following Sunday.

It would be great to see all these countries bring some talented young players and play exciting carefree football.

Alas it is but a dream. Glasgow 2014 won’t have any football on offer but I’m sure it will be a great success with all the other fine sports showing off their skills. I am looking forward to the games being a huge success!

 

Final Thoughts On World Cup 2014

Germany

Congratulations to Germany for their fine World Cup win. All in all the best team/squad won and that should be celebrated. As should the feat of being the first European side to win in the Americas.

The winning goal from Mario Gotze was one that would be welcome in any final. A nice early cross from Andre Schurrle was expertly controlled by  Gotze on his chest before he volleyed the ball beyond Argentina’s keeper and into the far side of the net. Wunderbar!

Although the Germans worked well as a team unit throughout, you cannot say Argentina didn’t give the new world champs a good game. If anything Argentina had the better chances with Lionel Messi, Gonzalo Higuain and Rodrigo Palacio all going wide.

German keeper Manuel Neuer (Golden glove winner) made some decent catches but was rarely startled. The Bayern man has certainly proved why many believe he is now the worlds best goalkeeper at this tournament.

Special mentions should be made for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Javier Mascherano. Both were true warriors for their nations. They seemed to cover every blade of turf, made some superb challenges and blocks and help keep the ball moving. Yes Mascherano may have been lucky not to get sent-off in extra-time but it would have been a sad end to a great tournament to see that.

Maybe a bit surprisingly, Lionel Messi won the golden ball award. Whether you feel he deserved that accolade or not, he did finally turn up and produce at the greatest stage of them all. Is he up there with Pele or Maradona? I have no idea, but he is the best of his generation.

Once again Toni Kroos gave a solid, consistent high performance, much like the games throughout the competition. Seems like he’s off to Real Madrid and that can only be good for the Champions League winners.

Wee should also remember a lot of this German success is down to the management team, both past and present. The foundations were in place back in 2004 when Jurgen Klinsmann took over as head coach. His philosophies of playing good, efficient football with a mix of older stalwarts and youthful talent has stuck with his former number two Joachim Löw you replaced Klinsmann after the World Cup in 2006. He has taken those tools left by Jurgen and made the national team better and better with each year. It was a plan that worked and the end goal was always a World Cup triumph.

One thing I would like to point out is the European domination of the World Cup since 2006. In the last three World Cup’s we’ve had three European winners. In that same space of time five out of the six finalists have been European with only Argentina have actually made a final as a non-Euro side in that time too.

The tournament has been a massive success. We’ve seen plenty of goals, great skills, drama and excitement. Their was little in the way of protests and the Brazilian fans were great even in defeat.

We had a surprise package in Costa Rica and that was fun. We had the shockingly bad performances of England, Portugal, Italy and Spain. We also saw hosts Brazil totally humiliated 7-1 in a semi-final. Although I still don’t get the need for a 3rd place play-off, no one wants to play it or watch it.

The new goal-line technology worked as did the disappearing spray. So grudgingly I say well done Fifa for that.

So thank you for the memories Brazil, here is to Russia in 2018 and gut gemacht Deutschland!